By JOHN McCALLUM
East Valley showed the Cheney volleyball squad what it means to be a good closing team. If the league-leading Lady Knights (4-0, 4-2) weren't opening some big leads early they were rallying and extending leads late in downing the Lady Hawks 3-1 in Great Northern League competition Thursday in Cheney.
East Valley opened a 7-0 lead in game one, and even though Cheney pulled to within one at 7-6 on the serving of Ashley Seiler, then EV gradually pulled away for a 25-16 win.
In game two it was the Lady Hawks cruising to the front early, breaking a 2-2 tie to go up 7-2 on good shots, EV errors and Lauren Puyear's serving. They extended that to 12-6, helped by back-to-back aces from Liz Gill, before the Lady Knights rallied, tying the game and then taking a 20-13 lead on the serving of Samantha Brady.
Cheney eventually pulled to within three at 23-20 but couldn't get any closer, losing 25-21. In game three the Lady Hawks rallied to tie the game first at nine, then at 12 and 13 before gradually pulling away for a 25-17 win. In game four the roles were reversed as the Lady Knights overcame three early ties, breaking the last at seven with a six-point run and 13-7 lead they kept extending for the 25-13 win and the match.
Seiler led Cheney in kills with 10, with Kendall Case recording 17 assists, Desiree Crabb and Seiler four digs each, Gill four aces and Kinsey Pease a pair of blocks. Cheney had a .188 hitting percentage for the match.
“Not bad, but not great,” head coach Brianne Lowe said. “Against a team like East Valley we have to hit better than that.”
Lowe was impressed with the way the Lady Hawks kept battling despite seemingly always playing from behind and that they mixed things up offensively with several players getting three and four kills each. Cheney also executed their game plan to serve away from East Valley senior middle/right side hitter and scoring leader Sam Geibel, who got most of her match-high 15 kills from “over passes.”
Where the Lady Hawks still need to work is their own serve/receive game, which Lowe said looks great in practice but tends to fall apart some during matches.
“I think there are two reasons,” Lowe said. “One is the pressure and two is (during games) you see different serves and we need to keep focusing on that.”
Cheney drops to 1-2 overall and in the GNL but can make up some ground with a busy schedule this week. The Lady Hawks traveled to West Valley (0-4) on Tuesday and return home for two matches, Thursday against Clarkston (1-3) and Saturday against a tall but young Pullman team (2-1, 2-2).
“I know there's no easy teams in this conference,” Lowe said. “We're definitely taking it by each match, focusing on West Valley and then dealing with Clarkston and Pullman.”
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.